Great Resignation’s Toll on US Healthcare [2022]

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How The Great Resignation of 2022 has affected healthcare services in the US

The 2020s decade did not get off to a great start. People’s lives and careers were put to a halt as the world economy was put at a standstill by the unstoppable rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time also saw a mass exodus of resignations all around the United States. The Great Resignation, otherwise known as the Big Quit, is the mass resignation of employees that began at the beginning of this pandemic. The number of resignations has continued to increase and has reached its peak at around late 2021 to early 2022.

great resignationThere are many factors that contribute to the Great Resignation. A Pew Research Center survey found that among the reasons why employees left their jobs in 2021 and 2022 are the following:

  • The salary is too low
  • No opportunities for advancement
  • They feel disrespected at work
  • Hours aren’t flexible enough
  • Benefits are terrible
  • Hours are too long

Dr. Gail Gazelle of Harvard told Health Leaders Media in 2022, “The Great Resignation is occurring for a variety of reasons and the pandemic has played a large role. After the flexibility of working at home, many people don’t want to return to the constraints that a workplace involves. Others have reconsidered their goals and priorities, leading them to try something new or move to a new organization.”

It is estimated that over 5 million U.S. workers left their jobs during the Great Resignation.

There seems to be not one company or industry in the U.S. that is immune to the Great Resignation, and the healthcare industry is no exception. In fact, the healthcare industry looks to be one of the worst victims of the Great Resignation.

A Great Decline

From 2020 to 2022, the entirety of the healthcare field has lost 20% of its total workforce. 30% of those are nurses. Other healthcare professions that saw a workforce decline include respiratory therapists, physicians, and allied health and behavioral health professionals. If the Great Resignation persists, a study from Mercer predicts that there will be a shortage of up to 3.2 million healthcare workers by 2026.

lower wage healthcare workersGiven the nature of the pandemic, the workforce decline of the healthcare industry comes as no surprise. The tumultuous time demanded a lot from the healthcare workers, and most of these workers received very little in return. They worked longer hours, their lives were at risk, and they felt stressed and burnt out. All the while, wages remained fairly similar, and the cost of living marginally increased.

During the pandemic, many health professionals expressed their exhaustion. Many were left snapped and drained. The taxing work and demanding hours pushed them past their breaking points and left them mentally and physically broken.

As such, many left the industry.

Burnout is the main driving force as to why the healthcare industry saw a decline during the Great Resignation.

“The levels of burnout are high in healthcare and in many other fields, so many people are leaving in an effort to focus on their mental health. Whatever the reason, the level of disruption throughout the economy is high,” says Dr. Gazelle.

The pandemic was only a nail in the coffin of the healthcare workforce decline. It isn’t necessarily the root. Carlos Bohorquez, CFO at El Camino Health, said that there was always a shortage of healthcare workers in the US prior to the pandemic. However, the unfortunate event stretched the workforce to the limit.

Hospitals all around the US, especially ones in rural areas, saw critical staffing shortages. This, in turn, completely endangered the communities these hospitals were serving.

While all of that is true, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end for the healthcare industry. Organizations such as the American Hospital Association are already taking measures to ensure that the healthcare industry is on the path to rising above the Great Resignation. On top of that, healthcare organizations can also take measures to make their workplaces a better place for their employees.

How the Healthcare Industry Can Bounce Back

American healthcare workforceIn 2022, the American Hospital Association (AHA) urged Congress and the Biden Administration to prioritize funding and legislation that support the American healthcare workforce. Not only will this benefit the healthcare industry amidst the pandemic, but it will also aim to nurture the industry for the future.

These legislative properties will aim to increase the residency slots, salaries of low-ranking healthcare workers, and overall funding within the healthcare industry. VISA relief will also be given to international healthcare workers so they can contribute to the medical industry in the US.

Medical employers can also contribute to the growth of the number of healthcare workers in the country. For starters, it is very important to make healthcare employees feel valued. A survey done by the KFF and Washington Post reveals that out of over 1,300 healthcare workers sampled, an astonishing half of them feel “burned out” or “anxious” to go to work. 21% of these workers even admitted to feeling “angry” whenever they go to their workplace.

Considering that, make your employees feel valued, heard, and fulfilled by considering the following options for your business or organization.

  • Better Compensation Packages

It’s entirely better and more cost-efficient to raise compensation to maintain retention rather than to lose employees and hire new ones. That being said, pay your employees better and they’ll become happier and more effective workers.

  • Provide hazard pay

The healthcare industry can be stressful at best, and outright dangerous at worst for workers. Healthcare practitioners are constantly placed in high-risk situations and many of them feel unrewarded for the dangers they put themselves through. Investing in providing your employees with good hazard pay will ensure they’ll remain happy at work regardless of the situation.

  • Offer opportunities to work remotely/provide hybrid options

While this isn’t applicable to every practice, when it is viable, offer the opportunity for an employee to work from home. Certain practices such as telemedicine, transcriptionists, and researchers, among others, are completely suited for remote work. If an employee is offered the opportunity to work remotely, they can avoid stresses and nuisances such as commute and distractions.

  • Hire and promote from within

One of the best ways to make your employees feel valued is to remind them that your organization appreciates good work. Let them know they have the opportunity to grow within your company by promoting and hiring from within rather than constantly opting for outside hires.

  • Provide rewards and build morale

Whenever someone does an exceptional job, make sure they are rewarded for it. Monetary rewards are the best option, but there are other things you can do as well. For example, having an “Employee of the Month” award is proven to do wonders for workplace morale. It encourages workers to perform exceptionally and it gives them validation whenever they’re rewarded for good work.

Another thing you can do is to have team building exercises wherein employees can interact with each other, get to know each other outside the workplace, and increase their overall confidence when it comes to being with workmates.

A Better Workplace Make For Happier Workers

US healthcare industryThese are just a few examples, but the meat of the matter is to provide platforms, services, and opportunities that reward your employees. This is sorely needed considering the intense nature of the healthcare industry. If more healthcare employers did these for their employees, there would be higher employee retention, and the workforce would constantly increase annually.

These aren’t the only factors, of course. Legislation still needs to be passed for the healthcare industry in the US to truly flourish. However, know that there are things you can do as a practitioner to help the industry you’re in to bounce back from the Great Resignation.

VMeDx and Ease of Work in the Healthcare Industry

Another facet medical practitioners can add to their work environment is to make work more seamless and automated. A great way to do this is to add a medical virtual assistant to your workforce that can handle tasks your other medical practitioners may not have enough time to do on their own.

These tasks can include creating their own schedules, following up on patients, managing insurance claims, and email accounts, and so much more. Hire a medical virtual assistant who can function as an administrative assistant to you and your organization to make the workload in your workplace more streamlined.

VMeDx-virtual-assistantVMeDx can provide you with a platform and services so that your job as a whole will become more manageable. Not only is this beneficial to you, it’s beneficial to your entire organization. Make your work more seamless and you’ll ensure longer employee retention. Your organization also becomes more appealing to would-be applicants. On top of that, having seamless integration and proper healthcare support will make your medical practice proliferate in the long run.

Consider getting a medical virtual assistant today and watch your practice become more stress-free. The healthcare industry is ripe with risk, pressure, and exhaustion. Make things easier for yourself. You may not be immune to the Great Resignation brought upon by the pandemic, but you can always bounce back and rise above today.


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